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  1. #1
    Apprentice
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    War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    To protect my Top Shelf image, I tend to turn up my nose to most Four Rose products … until now. As a reader of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2012 my interest was piqued when he bestowed a 96.5 rating on Four Roses Single Barrel. For comparison’s sake, Jim’s highest rated bourbon is George T. Stagg, which topped the Murray scales with a 97.5 rating. Therefore, you can see why I was intrigued.

    Here is what Jim writes about Four Roses Single Barrel:
    "If you have ever wondered if Four Roses has the wherewithal to play amongst the super-elite of the whiskey world, then track down this particular bottling and all will be revealed…for me the finest Four Roses I have ever come across" --- Whisky Bible 2012

    As a Stagg lover, if FRSB rated almost as high – then this would definitely be a treat for my taste buds (and wallet). My friend (and drinking buddy) is a fan of the Four Roses Mariage (whose ratings dip to low 88.5 on the Murray meter). My friend and Jim can’t be wrong … so it was high time to rethink my stand on this brand. Took my first pour and waited. Nothing. Nada. No Stagg-esque qualities. Granted my palate is still in its formative years … but I do not see the comparison between FRSB and George T. Stagg. Personally, I preferred the Mariage. FRSB was not a bad pour by any means...but perhaps I’m expecting too much and bought into Murray’s hype? Therefore, was wondering how the more experienced and mature tasters rate this one?

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  2. #2
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    Re: War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    Stag is Stag....and not red. The only thing that will ever compare to Stag....is another bottle of Stag. Let's just clear that one up

    4 Roses is in my opinion one of the best widely available single barrels out there (for my tastes). When I started on the bourbon path, I wasn't very impressed with many of the mainstream bourbons until I cracked open 4RSB. It was delicious right out the bottle (which many needed some air time before it became palatable.)

    My first bottle was TN 76-5T. I picked that particular bottle because of "TN" being the call letters of Tennessee . I still have 3 fingers left. So I bought a bottle to bunker: OS 42-1C I picked for no real reason other than it came with two 4R glasses.

    I picked up the 2011 4RSB LE which I have yet to get into (QN 17-2K)

    Today I was allowed to purchase the 2009 Mariage Collection (no 1106/3432). I want to open it....but...I may wait and savor it. The reviews I read when it was the BOTM were that it ranked up there with the VW line of bourbons. So I have high expectations for it.

    However, I thought we already discussed that some of Jim Murray's decisions seem to be...off base quite a bit.
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  3. #3
    Advanced Taster
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    Re: War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    Quote Originally Posted by Bmac View Post
    However, I thought we already discussed that some of Jim Murray's decisions seem to be...off base quite a bit.
    That's the understatement of the day.
    One whiskey for every ghost.

  4. #4
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    Re: War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    Quote Originally Posted by Bmac View Post
    However, I thought we already discussed that some of Jim Murray's decisions seem to be...off base quite a bit.
    Yeah…we did. However, I have two friends that are die-hard Jim Murray believers. (They even have his book and iPhone app). As a result, his ratings are continuously being bantered back and forth. My take has always been that Jim may know his scotches but bourbon is not scotch. They seem to disagree with me. Was hoping to use these posts as my rebuttal.

  5. #5
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    Re: War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    I've found the standard single barrel to be quite subtle. As others have said, it's a totally different style from Stagg.

    Remember, even with a reviewer whose ratings you trust, "as good as" is not the same thing as "tastes like."
    Life's too short, and there's too much good whiskey within reach.

  6. #6
    Connoisseur
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    Re: War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    When doing your taste comparison, did you lower the proof of the Stagg to 100? I would think that would be a first step if you are looking for similarities.

  7. #7

    Re: War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    First off, I personally am a big fan of all of the Four Roses products and feel they all have there place.

    That being said I am not a believer in any way in the 100 point rating system for any type of beverage. There is a number of reasons.

    First and foremost, everyone tastes things differently than everyone else. Unless you find a reviewer who tends to rate things the same way you would there scores are not helpful.

    Second, taste is subjective and many factors, including what you ate that day and even what time of day you are tasting will effect your tastes. Trying to translate your experience into two numbers seems to undermine the very experience.

    Third, it isn't even a 100 point system, what is the range from lowest score to highest, 70 to 96 or 97 ? its actually more like a 30 point system.

    And forth, and I mean no offense by this, but people who aren't experienced drinkers may buy products that aren't right for them, because the scores say they are the best. What do I mean by this, just because Jim likes something and gives it a 95 or 96, doesn't mean that you will like them (back to point two). The whole rating system is another form of marketing, meant to help consumers make purchasing decisions, by providing them the quick and dirty. Thats not how it works and I don't think we should pretend it is. It is going to take trial and error for everyone to find out what they like and don't like.

    Personally I like products of all types in almost all price ranges and I don't care one bit what Jim Murray thinks about them. If you like a whiskey, by definition its a good whiskey for you. Nothing is better just because its rare, more expensive, older, or has a higher score, thats just not how it works.

    But thats just my 2 cents.
    Cheers,
    Tom

  8. #8
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    Re: War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    I generally agree with the above poster. I work in the wine business - where critics & scores are even a bigger deal.

    The most important thing in wine/food/spirit criticism should be the tasting note. If the reviewer is able to reasonably & accurately relay the experience of the bourbon, then the job is done and down well. Is the alcohol prominent? Is the barrel influence too strong, not strong enough? If you can also provide the mashbill, you are my new favorite critic.

    I personally find scores helpful within the context of a certain winery or distillery. If I like 4 Roses and a critic I follow and respect says the 2013 4R 1B is the best yet, I'll be sure to look for it. I like Redbreast -- and the scores/feedback on the CS made me actively seek it out. Ultimately, a score or tasting note is only an impression of a certain thing at a specific moment in time. Not truth, never gospel.
    tl; dnr

  9. #9

    Re: War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    Four Roses SB is my least favorite expression of theirs. The first FR expression I ever purchased was the standard Yellow Label, which I quite enjoyed. Having tried their cheapest option, I then stepped up to SB, which I thought was ok but not great at the price point. Since trying the standard SB, I recently purchased the TPS SB Barrel Strength OESK, OBSK, and OESO, all of which are FANTASTIC, and I am now a true FR convert.

    I think if you're going to compare to something like Stagg, at least compare one of the barrel strength offerings, although even then I feel like even that comparison on point scale is like comparing apples and oranges.

  10. #10
    Connoisseur
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    Re: War of the (Four) Roses: Single Barrel

    Also you're comparing an 18 year old, cask strength, non-filtered, bourbon's bourbon to an 8 - 9 yr chill-filtered and watered down to 100 proof.

    There can't be a comparison even if you get the cask strength single barrel. GTS still has age over it. I think therewas an over aged 4R release some years ago that comes close to matching in age....but I dont know if it was barrel proof.
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